Monday, December 9, 2013

Around the World - Sunny and Mackenzie - November 2013

Sunny and her new partner Mackenzie hosted our November gourmet night.  The invites were darling postcards inviting each gal to a culinary adventure around the world.
They hosted at Mackenzie's new home in Daybreak and it was darling!  
We entered to hanging globes,
a darling set up of vintage luggage, airplanes and
paper pinwheels made out of maps.  It was so cute!
The appetizers looked wonderful and the house smelt amazing.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce rocked!  Everyone was in love.
Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad was yum.
Mexican "Elote" Corn Dip had ladies going back for seconds
and Brazilain Limeade too.  
It was all great flavors and executed perfect.
We moved into the dining room for dinner.  They had a some of the cutest details.

The globes around for decor were a big hit.
The map got lots of "ooh's and ah's" and rightly so!  They had spelled out "Bon Voyage!" in red pins on a large map on the wall.  So, so cute!
Place settings were clean and simple.  Loved the basket woven place mats!
The straws had "hello" written in different languages affixed as little flags.  Simple details make it happen.
Name tags were mini globes (pencil sharpeners).
The menus were our passports.  How cute!
Instead of the usual menu subtitles for each course, they used; Pre-boarding, take off, in flight and landing.  Again a perfect detail!
In between courses they served a Green Apple Sorbet. (Compliments of Wild Rose) Perfect pallet cleanser.
Take off course was Thai Coconut Curry Soup.  
In Flight was Indian Chicken Tikka Masala with Indian Naan Bread.  Three flavors: Plain, Garlic and Peshawari. (Bombay house)
They also served it with a Mango Lassi that was really unique in texture and had great flavor.
Our landing course was Mexican Trifle with Homemade Mini Churros.  Seriously, a delicious evening!
As we left there was another large wire basket of various globes next to the take home table.
Take homes were our recipes and a darling box of chocolates.

Nice work Sunny and Mackenzie!
Bon Voyage ladies.  Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Pei Wei Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls

3-4 sprigs Fresh Mint
2 handfuls Lettuce (I just used green leaf lettuce)
2 handfuls Napa Cabbage
2 Carrots
2 Green Onions
1/2 cup Peanuts
1 Chicken breast, cooked and shredded
Peanut Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
2 cups Rice Noodles
8-10 pieces Rice Paper

Start by channeling
 your inner Pioneer Woman and assemble your ingredients. The measurements 
don't need to be exact. Wash and pat dry all the veggies. Give the mint, lettuce, cabbage, 
green onions, and peanuts a rough chop. Dice the carrots (I'll probably just buy shredded 
carrots next time). I set everything on a plate and put it in the fridge while I made the sauce.

Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 and 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Measure the water into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the remaining ingredients 
and whisk until combined. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until it thickens slightly and remove 
from heat.

Now that the sauce and noodles are done, it's time to assemble these bad boys! Get a 
container of cold water to dip the rice paper in - a pie plate worked perfectly for me. 
Submerge one piece completely, shake the water off gently, and lay on a flat, clean surface. 
Don't be like me and get so excited about your rolls that you drop the package of rice 
paper on the floor and break the edge off all your perfectly round wraps.  To make a 
nice roll, the filling should leave enough room on all four sides to fold.

Sprinkle on a pinch of mint, then a bit of the lettuce, cabbage, carrots, green onions, 
and peanuts. Then next to that little pile of goodness, lay some rice noodles and shredded chicken.

Fold in one long side then the two short sides and roll the whole thing towards the last 
side, being careful to keep the filling contained. Lay the roll seam side down and it should 
seal up nicely. 

Repeat until the filling is gone...I was able to make 8 rolls. Serve with the peanut dipping sauce 
and sweet chili sauce.  My kids kids ate them, but they weren't crazy in love with the rice 
paper so I just tore the rolls open so they could eat the filling with the peanut sauce. 

Korean Spicy Cucumber Salad
-       1  cucumber 
-       1 tsp salt
-       1/2 tsp each- sugar, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, salt and rice vinegar
-       1/4 tsp each- minced garlic, sesame seeds

Slice cucumber, add salt and let marinate 30min. Rinse briefly with water and pat dry. 
Mix in the rest of ingredients.

Mexican “Elote” Corn Dip
(Amazing warm Mexican appetizer)


6 ears corn, husks intact*
1 c. mayonnaise
1 T. Cholula brand hot sauce
2 T. fresh lime juice
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1 t. sugar
11/4 c. chicken stock
¼ c. Cotija cheese, ground or crumbled, for garnish
2 T. chopped cilantro, for garnish
Tortilla chips

Over a medium-hot grill, roast the corn until the husks are well charred, about 5 minutes.  
Turn occasionally so as not to burn the side contacting the direct heat. Set the roasted ears 
aside until cool enough to handle, then shuck them. Cut the kernels off the cobs.

When ready to eat, mis the mayo, hot sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper, sugar, and chicken 
stock in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the corn kernels and warm through. Pour into a 
bowl and garnish with cheese & cilantro. Serve immediately (warm) with crispy tortilla chips!

Brazilian Lemonade/Limeade - Our Best Bites
Ingredients: 4 juicy limes (try and find ones with thin, smooth skins; they’re the juiciest and 
the thin skin cuts down on the chance of your drink being bitter)
1 c. sugar
 6 c. cold water

6 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
Instructions: Mix cold water and sugar very well and chill until ready to use. This step can 
be done ahead of time.
Wash limes thoroughly with soap (I just use hand-dishwashing soap or regular hand 
soap); you need the soap to get the wax and pesticides off of the limes because you’re 
using the WHOLE lime, baby. Cut the ends off the limes and then cut each lime into 8ths.
Place 1/2 of the limes in your blender.
Add 1/2 of the sugar water, place the lid on your blender, and pulse 5 times. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a pitcher (the one you’ll serve the lemonade in) and pour the blended mixture 
through the strainer and into the pitcher. Use a spoon to press the rest of the liquid into the 
pitcher. Dump the pulp and stuff in the strainer into the trash. Repeat with remaining limes and 
sugar water. Add sweetened condensed milk; DO NOT leave this step out unless you will 
die of a horrible sweetened condensed milk allergy because this is the secret ingredient! 
You may want to taste test it at this point; I used giant, thick-skinned limes tonight and didn’t 
test it and it came out a little bitter. If it’s bitter, just add some more sugar and maybe a little 
more milk.
Serve immediately over lots of ice. This does not keep well, so don’t make this in advance 
(although you can cut the limes, mix the sugar water, and measure the sweetened condensed 
milk in advance). Serves 4, although I can pretty much guarantee you that people will want 
more; I usually plan on 1 1/2 servings at LEAST per person.

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

This recipe is hard to write out because I make it differently every time.   Honestly, as long as you have the right ingredients, just add how much you like, to taste, and play around with it.  Here’s a basic guide but you can mix it up.  

1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil 
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 stalk lemon grass, minced (Optional)
2 teaspoons red or green curry paste (I use a large TBSP+ of regular  curry seasoning instead)
4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons fish sauce (Optional, I don’t like this)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk
Shrimp or diced cooked chicken
1 pound medium shrimp - peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Whatever Veggies you want (potatoes, red bell peppers, mushrooms etc.)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the ginger, lemongrass, and curry paste in the heated oil for 1 minute. Slowly pour the chicken broth over the mixture, stirring continually. Stir in the fish sauce, brown sugar and veggies; simmer for 15 minutes. Cook and stir until the veggies are soft.  Add the shrimp/chicken and warm through.  Stir in the lime juice; season with salt; garnish with cilantro.

Mango Lassi
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped mango (peeled and stone removed)
4 teaspoons sugar, to taste
A dash of ground cardamom (optional)

Method: Put mango, yogurt, milk, sugar and cardamom into a blender and blend for 2 minutes, then pour into individual glasses, and serve. Can sprinkle with a little cardamom.
The lassi can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Slow Cooker Indian Chicken Tikka Masala
Yields 6 servings
    Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

                          5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 3 lbs)
                          1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
                          4 cloves garlic, minced
                          2 Tbsp freshly, finely grated ginger
                          1 (29 oz) can tomato puree (I recommend Contadina Brand)
                          1 1/2 cups plain yogurt  
                          2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
                          2 Tbsp lemon juice
                          2 Tbsp Garam Masala
                          1 Tbsp cumin
                          1/2 Tbsp paprika
                          2 tsp salt, or to taste
                          3/4 tsp cinnamon
                          3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
                          1-3 tsp cayenne pepper*
                          2 bay leaves
                          1 cup heavy cream
                          1/2 tbsp cornstarch
                          Prepared Long Grain White Rice or Basmati Rice
                          Chopped cilantro, for serving

            In a large mixing bowl combine chopped onions, minced garlic, grated ginger, tomato puree, plain yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, Garam Masala, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir until combine. Pour half of sauce mixture into a large slow cooker then add in diced chicken followed then cover chicken with remaining sauce. Add in 2 bay leaves. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low heat for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours).

In a mixing bowl, whisk together heavy cream and cornstarch, pour mixture into slow cooker and gently stir. Allow mixture to cook 20 minutes while you prepare the rice. Remove bay leaves and serve warm over rice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
*I put 1 -3 tsp because it is all depending on your heat preference. If you don't like spicy foods you could even omit this ingredient. I go for 3 tsp but I like my food really spicy.

Mexican Trifle

In a trifle bowl, layer the following in as many layers as desired.  Sprinkle shaved dark chocolate pieces on top.

-       Churro Bites (recipe below)
-       Mexican Chocolate Pudding (recipe below)
-       Homemade Whip Cream
-       Strawberries

Churro Bites
Yield: 4 servings
Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

·      ½ cup milk
·      ½ cup water
·      3 Tbsp butter, diced
·      2 tsp granulated sugar
·      ¼ tps + 1/8 tsp salt
·      ½ tsp vanilla extract
·      1 cup all-purpose flour
·      Vegetable oil, for frying
 Cinnamon Sugar Coating
·      ½ cup granulated sugar
·      2 tsp ground cinnamon


·      Heat 1 ½ inches of oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat to 360 degrees (keep a close eye on the temp while you prepare the churro dough, you don't want it to become too hot, so you may have to reduce the temp or remove the pot from the burner for a moment.
·      In a medium sauce pan combine milk, water, butter, 2 tsp sugar, and salt and bring mixture just to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, remove from heat and immediately stir in vanilla and flour. Stir mixture with a silicone spatula while running dough along the bottom of the saucepan to smooth any lumps and stir until mixture comes together and is smooth. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip and carefully pipe about 1 to 1 ½ inches of dough out over oil and using clean scissors, cut dough at top to allow dough to drop into oil (to make it faster I’d pipe about 2-3 inches out at a time and would cut 2 at once the pipe more and repeat). Work in fairly small batches being careful not to overcrowd (which will reduce oil temperature too much. You want the oil to remain close to 350). Allow churros to fry until golden brown (stirring occasionally near the beginning of frying will help keep them from sticking to each other) and remove with a wire skimmer and drain on a plate or baking sheet lined with several layers of paper towels.
·      In a small mixing bowl, whisk together ½ cup granulated sugar and 2 tsp of ground cinnamon. Toss warm, drained churros into sugar mixture to evenly coat. For best results serve with warm with chocolate sauce if desired.

Mexican Chocolate Pudding

Serves 4
Active time: 15 min Start to finish: 2 hrs

·      ½ cup packed light brown sugar
·      ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
·      2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
·      ½ teaspoon cinnamon
·      2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
·      1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
·      ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Accompaniments: lightly sweetened whipping cream; toasted silvered almond

·      Whisk together brown sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp of salt in a heavy medium saucepan, then whisk in almond milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking often, then boil, whisking. 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Chill in a bowl, surface covered with a piece of buttered wax paper, until cold, at least 1 ½ hours. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dr. Seuss - Annika and Michelle - September 2013

Annika and Michelle hosted our first gourmet club for year number SIX/SEVEN (depending on who you ask)! 
The theme was Dr. Seuss.  Bright, cheery, exciting and adventurous for sure! 
The weather was the beginning of that adventure for sure and thanks to some crazy wind we ended up dining indoors instead out.
The truffle trees were so cute and fun!  Trees and the cat in the hat's hat greeted each guest at the front door.  Inside was a small table with a collection of some of the favorite books from Dr. Seuss and a few more trees.
The table was bright and happy as well and 

had some windy tall red vases housing large bright football mums.
The menus were like a book and had the Cat in the Hat with his green eggs and ham on the cover.
The back of the menu even had "The End" to finish their book and meal off right.
Place cards were mimicked after Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Each place setting from Thing 1 to Thing 9 so the girls could pick their seat for a change.
The bay window had a large swag with some of their favorite colorful quotes from Dr. Seuss and a big truffula ball in the center all hung from clothes pins.
The appetizer table had quotes in frames as well and a few other pops of color.
The menu was so fun!  Filled with more inspiring and laughable quotes along with an adventure of a menu.
Rather than appetizers, main dish and such each were served a foreword, preface, intro, story and epilogue to follow the book theme.
The Lorax of Peach Smoothies and 
Horton Fluffs a Flatbread (Ricotta Flatbread with Pomegranate Salsa)
Grinchy Greens (Vertical Pear Salad)
Green Eggs n' Ham
Roast Beast (Smoked Brisket)
Parmesan Brussels Sprouts and
"Thnead" Squash (Butternut Squash Puree) with an edible nasturtium flower
Cat in the Hat Pavlova (Fruit and Cream Pavlova)
It was yum, but maybe I am prejudice....I don't think so. ;-)
We welcomed two new gals to the group this season, one of which it happened to be her birthday! McKenzie (Sunny's partner) got a candle and awesome happy birthday rendition to seal the deal and initiate her into Gourmet Gals!  Welcome McKenzie, we are excited to have you and hope you had a wonderful birthday!  We also welcomed Lindsay's new partner Kim and are excited to get to know both of them better this year.
Take homes were just comedic really.
Recipes of course and....
how could we not give a gold fish with Dr. Seuss?!
The best part, half of them were already dead and the gals were fighting over who had to take the live ones home!  
It was so great to start off another season and get to catch up with each other after a busy Summer!  Such a great group of ladies and we are excited to feast on this season of gourmet creations!

the lorax of peach smoothies

5 large fresh peaches (peeled)
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
½ cup orange juice
1 Tbs. of Honey or Agave
1 tray of ice cubes

Add ingredients into blender in order given.  Blend till desired texture.

horton fluffs a flatbread
(ricotta flatbread with pomegranate salsa)

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup dried, sweetened cranberries; roughly chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. honey
2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 Tbs. orange zest
pinch of salt
1 oval pre-baked flatbread, such as naan or pocketless pita
8 ounces ricotta
1/2 cup baby arugula

Combine pomegranate seeds, cranberries, shallot, oil, vinegar, honey, parsley, orange zest and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.  Place flatbread on a preheated grill rack or backing stone in a 450-degree oven; toast until warm and edges are lightly toasted, 5-10 minutes. Spoon ricotta over warm flatbread and spread lightly.  Arrange arugula over ricotta; cut into serving pieces.  Top each slice with salsa.            

yield: 4 servings

green eggs n’ ham sandwich

Chipotle Mayonnaise:
1/2 cup mayo
1 chipotle pepper
1 tsp. adobo sauce
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
The rest:
8 slices crusty bread
1 avocado, cut into 16 slices
4 slices ham or bacon, cooked until crispy
8 eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

In a medium bowl, stir to combine mayonnaise, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce and lime juice.  Set aside.

Toast bread until golden brown.  Spread 1-tablespoon chipotle mayo on each piece of toast.  Top with 2 slices avocado and piece of ham or bacon.  Fry eggs and lay on egg on top of each piece of toast.  Garnish with cilantro, if desired.  Serve immediately. yield: 4 servings

roast beast
(Smoked Brisket)
Preheat smoker and add wood chips (follow your instruction manual). Rinse and dry the brisket. Apply seasoning rub. Place brisket in smoker for 8-10 hours. Keep the smoker temperature at about 225 to 250 degrees F. To increase tenderness, take the brisket out of the smoker once it reaches 170 degrees F., wrap in aluminum foil and place back in the smoker or in an oven at 180-200 degrees for the last two hours or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F.

grinchy greens
(vertical pear salad)
8 pears
4 Tbs. glazed pecans
3 oz Feta or Gorgonzola cheese
3 cups mixed greens

1Tbs. minced Shallots
1/3 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp. cracked pepper
½ tsp. salt
½ cup honey
½-2/3 cup olive oil

Toss mixed greens, pecans, and cheese with a small amount of the dressing.  Core pears from bottom, keeping stem intact.  Slice pears in 3-4 horizontal slices.  Brush cut sides with lemon juice. Reassemble pears with salad mix in between.  Drizzle with additional dressing and serve.  Serves 8

parmesan brussels sprouts

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and discolored outer leaves removed
2 Tbs. olive oil
parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together Brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Gently stir until well combined.  Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then spread the Brussels sprouts on it evenly.  Roast for 12-18 minutes, stirring once partway through, the last 3-5 minutes sprinkle with parmesan to your liking and finish roasting until they are crispy on the outside and cooked on the inside.

 “thnead” squash

1 – medium butternut squash
2 Tbs. butter, to taste and consistency
2 Tbs. brown sugar, to taste
2 Tbs. half and half or cream, to taste and consistency
pinch of salt.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and place skin side down in a glass pyrex dish with a small layer of water just to cover bottom of pan.  Bake covered in a 350 degree oven for about 60 minutes or until nice and soft.  Scoop meat out of squash and add butter, brown sugar and cream.  Beat with mixer until smooth and creamy.

cat in the hat pavlova

8 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Beat egg whites to soft peaks and then continue beating in mixer until whites reach stiff peaks.  Once eggs have reach full stiff peaks, place meringue into a large piping bag.  Place a single sheet of parchment paper on cookie sheet and taking a large dinner plate, trace a full circle onto the parchment paper.  Repeat with 2nd cookie sheet and paper.  Take piping bag and starting on the outside of circle, pipe in a circular pattern working from the outside towards the center to fill in the circle with meringue.   Repeat with second sheet.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes.

When done, let meringue fully cool.  To serve, place one meringue on bottom of a decorative plate, cover with fresh whipping cream and choice of fresh berries.  Place second meringue on top of fruit and repeat the same process finishing with fruit.